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Archive for the ‘packaging’ Category

We got about an inch and a lizard of rain Saturday. Lol he's so cute!

Well happy October, everyone! I can’t believe it’s here already but what a welcome change in terms of weather patterns. Mark caught this little guy in the rain gauge last week when he was checking on the rain we had gotten. Over the past several weeks, we have seen maybe 1 to 3 inches of rain each week and it’s made everything around here green again. The bees are flying heavily and bringing in tons of pollen. They’re also making some good honey for their winter stores and we are so excited about the potential for another great season next spring. Yes, we are already thinking ahead. This good soaking of the ground is what the wildflowers need NOW in order to bloom beautifully LATER.

In other news, we’ve been getting honey supers cleaned (with help from the bees as well as Stan and Mr. Savior), getting the home better organized (finally unpacking books and such now that we found some shelves), and preparing for upcoming holiday events! It’s about that time, right? We are busily getting wording and pictures updated so we can get the website caught up – we are so behind in terms of all the new products we haven’t had time to get listed. Well, we are now working on it and hope to have information to our friend Troy soon. He’s our awesome web designer who also happens to now have his own hives (yay Troy and family!)!

GBR Product Shoot 2014

Last Sunday we hosted our first vendor/member for our Pearl FM family! It was a great turnout and we look forward to having more of these so that we can all get to know each other better, away from the hustle and bustle of market. We are all so busy there that it’s hard to have time to visit with each other. This event was so much fun and we appreciated folks making time to drive to the Bee Ranch to see the operation. Can’t wait to see where we go next time!

Pearl Vendor Get Together

One more thing before I go…this is Mark’s third rattler killed. Thankfully only one has been at the house and now that we have spotted the family of gray foxes, we haven’t noticed snakes. Anyway, this one was at the Carolina bee yard which is located at the Moo Jesus Dairy Farm. Mark said it was headed into the garden the family keeps and he sure did not want it surprising them so he grabbed his handing garden hoe and took care of it. Thank goodness he had his snake boots on this time! Yay, honeybee! Good job, love. People have been telling us that they notice more rattlers this year so be careful out there, friends!

The only good thing about this is that I get some pics without worry about it being alive. It does, however, still move from reflex and that's a little creepy. #texas #rattlesnake

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HH construction December 16, 2013

Yesterday I finally got out to the HH to see how things were progressing inside. It’s so exciting! It’s feeling real when we walk in and we can already envision next season when we can drive the truck through during extraction time. And gift packaging where there’s an actual shipping table and products within easy reach. We’re making things work this year because we know it’s a transition year but we cannot wait to have things in place in the HH. The space closest to us in the picture will be the bottling room. Next to it will be our temporary retail space until we have enough money to put one up front and that’ll be visible from W. Kingsbury. Next to the retail space will be the full-size bathroom. And the space above all of that will be for storing honey supers. 🙂

Shipping GBR goodies out for the holidays

The holidays have been crazy but in a good way. We just realize how much more we’ll appreciate the HH after this season. We have one more big push at Pearl market this weekend and of course there are the phone and online orders to fill but come Christmas, we’re hoping we can sleep in a little and just catch our breath. Good thing we have Tang helping us out this year! He rocks and we enjoy working with him a great deal. That’s one hardworking brother we got!

Getting punchy

Smokey thought about helping me pack ornaments and honeys but in the end, he really just wanted me to hold him and cuddle. I gave him about three minutes. Sorry, Smoke! Too busy!

Smokester sort of helps out with packaging

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We are so thrilled to finally have all the components ready for the rollout of our first-ever holiday ornaments! We had been working on the packaging as I have mentioned in previous posts and now we’re ready. We did a soft launch this past weekend at market and class but now these lovelies are up for grabs anywhere and anytime. I still have to do an official photo shoot in order to prep them each for the website but here’s the basic information you’ll need to know to decide if you want to buy them for yourself or as a gift for others:

  • Angel with Candle and Santa & Kitty ornaments are each $14.
  • Round Tree of Life ornament is $16.
  • All ornaments are 100% pure beeswax – all natural with no artificial scents added, just the sweet and natural honey in there. All beeswax comes from right here in South Texas.
  • We hand-pour and pull each ornment in our Candle Shop here at the Bee Ranch.
  • Each ornament comes in its own linen bag that includes a pull-twine-tie and a folded, heavy-stock information booklet with a history of beeswax ornaments and care and handling tips.

Surprise!!!! Soft intro of holiday ornaments today at @pearlbrewery farmers market.

Here’s the front of the booklet:

New holiday ornament booklets  arrived!

The inside and back are filled with beeswax ornament history and care information:

Inside the insert

Also, just so you know, I can’t wait to do a beeswax ornament themed tree this year – our first. 🙂 Excited! We’ve been testing the impact of small lights on the ornaments and are happy to report there is no significant impact whatsoever and I’ve had the bulb touching the ornaments for weeks. There’s barely any warmth where it touches the wax so it appears to withstand the lights quite well.

New beeswax ornaments - testing heat factor from Christmas lights

PS – You can click on each picture to view them at a larger size. Just a reminder.
Subscript to the PS – I did some Christmas shopping already and I’m putting a gift under the tree tonight! HEHE

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Financial work sessions

Today’s work is some serious financial reconciliations and planning and strategies for future efficiencies. Even while we took a late lunch break, we continued to discuss business matters, covering everthing from nuc sales forecasting to holiday ornanment pricing structure. We are so blessed to have a sister who loves her financials and loves us. Win, win. 🙂 We’re also blessed because we get to celebrate with her even as we work. Thuy is a breast cancer survivor and it’s a little over a year since she was first diagnosed and underwent her first surgery to remove the cancer. Through it all she has just let her magnificent light shine and it now shines even brighter than I have ever known it to – she’s glowing with life and a pure happiness and joy that comes from learning not to take a day for granted. Last fall, Thuy’s days were often filled with chemo treatments, meaning plenty of not so great side effects that kept her from doing anything except sleeping so her body could heal. We are all so thankful that she has made such a great recovery in so little time. I know it’s been a year but it is just hard to believe it’s been a full year. Seems like yesterday when we had to cancel her trip to the Bee Ranch thanks to the dreaded BC diagnosis. This summer, Thuy told me she wants to enjoy every single day of fall and winter since she missed them both last year. I just really love how she is embracing each day she wakes up and it inspires me even more to do the same myself. So here we are, enjoying even the work we must do while we are on our little mini-vacation. Really, who can complain about work when you get to look up and see the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and shrimping boats and dolphin pods and gentle waves. Not us!

To date, we are entering fall in pretty good shape in almost all bee yards. Last week in our area, we averaged about 5.5 inches of rain on top of the recent weekly rains. This fall rain is great and will hopefully mean the bees will be good and strong come next spring so they can gear up for honey production. The pollen and nectar they continue to bring in this fall all go towards building up their winter honey stores, meaning we leave it for them and they will sustain themselves with little intervention from us. We do have several gallon bags full of pollen should some of the bees need a boost to help them get to spring in good shape. In other bee biz news, mite treatments were all administered. The Honey House building continues to move along even if it is slower than we’d like; at least things are happening now that Mark decided he needed to be his own contractor. More work but more control that way. He’s in the collect-bids stage so we’re getting engineers to finally agree and qoutes from plumbers, electricians, septic system designers and builders and so on and so on. Exciting! One day we are really going to be rocking and rolling in our new building and we probably won’t know what to do. Well, yes we will because we are desperate for more space for working but you know what I mean. 🙂

Also wanted to share that we have enjoyed working with our branding consultant, Maeve of Design Maeven, and we have approved labels and tags to the printers. Woohoo! As much as I enjoy “crafting” the handmade Creamed Honey tags, I just don’t have time to do the print-cut-glue-cut-hole-punch-tag process every week. 🙂 Can’t wait to peel and stick all those jars – people love it so much I can hardly keep up with the 48-55 jars we sell weekly pretty consistently. The other part of the rebranding project is our gift tags for the ornaments we want to introduce this year. Can’t wait to show that to y’all and to have the products available for purchase. People have already started pre-orders for the ornaments as Christmas gifts and they haven’t even seen the final packaging! We are so touched by the trust placed with us to do good things. Thank y’all so much!

Now, I must really take a stretch break. We’ve been working all day and while the view of the ocean is lovely and the sound of the gentle waves is relaxing, my east coast soul yearns to walk in the water. Unfortunately, it is a little on the chilly side for a dip in the ocean today (boo) but I hope to do so before we leave. Meanwhile, I have watched this shrimp boat cruise back and forth about three times today so I’m thinking shrimp might be what’s for dinner. Will let y’all know. Will also let you know if Mark and Thuy ever take a break today from their financial planning and reconciliation activities. I’m happy they are making such great progress on their to-do list, however. Thankful, thankful. Talk to y’all soon.

Update 11:42pm EST: They took a break around 5:45p and we finally got to walk along the beach, collecting shells and taking fun pictures and just being thankful for having this time together. I just love being with these two. 🙂

Thinking we will have shrimp for din tonight...2nd pass this AM.

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Table of productivity
These are ready for markets this weekend although the ornaments are wrapped and stored for our big holiday rollout after we finalize packaging and labeling. Yay!

Besides hand-pouring all these lovely beeswax candles, bars, blocks and ornaments, Mark’s been on a tight schedule to clean up from harvest season, treat and requeen all hives and make progress on the Honey House project. Finally got some engineers who speak the same language so we are super please about that. Thanks to our good friend Thomas for his help in reviewing all the plans and proposals and catching some things that helped us out a lot!

Check it out – more queens! Mark is really trucking along on Project Requeen Every Hive before mid-October. Good job, love. Unlike the last back of Olivarez queens (they came around 7:00pm), this box was waiting for me when I got home for lunch, which is really nice to be able to do almost every day. My day job is about 7 minutes from home. Pretty awesome. Anyway, so far so good on the requeening. Things are going very smoothly this year and the direct introduction method is working very well with our hives. So glad Mark read about it on our friend Emily’s bee blog and then followed up with the researchers. It has saved Mark a lot of time and energy.

Queen bees in the mail

The box under the queens contains more samples of containers we are considering for packaging the new holiday ornaments we have developed and plan to roll out in time for holiday shoppers! So excited. We are making progress with Maeve as well and hopefully we’ll have our new tags and labels soon for the creamed honey as well as the beeswax products. Did I mention we are excited? 🙂

Beautiful frame of bee brood

Speaking of excited – the report for the JW Marriott bee yard is fantastic. Mark went there this morning and was thrilled to see all the hives were doing very well. That’s a frame full of beautiful brood from one of the hives. You may recall that we lost four out of five hives out there at the Marriott last year so we are really happy they are thriving this year. You never know from year to year which yards will do well. Historical performances don’t always act as the best indications of how well a bee yard will do the current year. It all has to rain and what’s been blooming for the bees. No rain, no blooms, no protein = two bee yards moved out to new locations this year. You have to watch the hives and if they are not doing well, you have to help them and in our case, Mark moved them to areas that seem to be getting more rain this year. In both instances, the colonies made progress within a week or two of being in their new yards. That’s always a good feeling to know that you’ve helped them in some way. They do so much for us.

Moving the rest of the divides

One last thing, I miss seeing all our new divides out behind the house. We still kept a few teaching hives as well as the queen bank out back but this week, Mark and Stan completed their move of the new divides to their permanent home. They have been developing quite well and we hope they will make it through winter just fine. You don’t really know what 2014 will be like for them until spring, when we can see how they managed. But these bees have been building up their honey stores and carrying pollen like crazy so those are great signs. It’s raining on and off here this afternoon and that’s also a great sign. A wet fall and winter would do wonders for next season’s crop. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

Here’s how it looked when we had a full house not too long ago.

Backyard divides 2013

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Scenic drive on Highway 118

Hello everyone! Sorry it’s been so long but we took some time off to visit our grandbabies and kiddos out in West Texas. And then it was bam, bang, boom as soon as we got back so I haven’t had time to catch y’all up on stuff. So much at work, home AND GBR. Be patient with us and I’ll do a fuller beekeeping post as soon as markets are over. Meanwhile, here’s a quick rundown of a few things.

We had a great visit with the kids, fell in love with the grandkids and witnessed a lot of beautiful skies, weather and landscape. Oh yes, and then there was the rainbow. Two of them. We were blessed to witness an amazing double rainbow the last night there and just as we finised dinner at the Lodge where our son works. Gorgeous and breathtaking!

Double Rainbow over Fort Davis Lodge

Back at market today, we introduced our creamed honey and it was met with great enthusiasm and sold out by 11am. Nice. We’ll continue to work on the formal packaging but we have my handmade tags for the time being. Doesn’t seem to be stopping people from enjoying the smooth creaminess and spreadability of the new product. If you haven’t ever had creamed or whipped honey, here’s your chance to grab some. We’ll have a few jars at Quarry tomorrow and try to get more together for next weekend. Hopefully, our project with Maeve for the label will move along quickly and I won’t be making the laborous tags much longer. Not that I mind crafting but there’s too much to do for me to be crafting! 🙂

Earlier on Instagram and Facebook, I posted a shot of three of the new holiday ornaments we are working on so that they’ll be ready in time for holiday shopping – so exciting! We’re trying out molds and seeing how the wax might or might not develop a bloom over time, causing a little bit of haziness on the ornaments. You can easily wipe off the bloom and it doesn’t impact the scent or quality of the ornament at all but we still work on the bloom not happening at all. Anyway, we are just super excited to work with Maeve to develop just the right packaging for the formal introduction of these ornaments. Can’t wait!

Just love the sweet ornaments we're developing for the holidays! Sneak peak  for you.

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New batch of GBR postcards

Howdy and happy Friday! We are happy these got done in time for our weekend markets – since I can’t really help with the bees, I can do things like keep up with the social media, some emails, phone inquiries, and create and edit print materials such as our postcards. Those things fly off the table and they also get used a lot in our packaged and shipped merchandise. Nice to have them in and reflecting our new social media logos. I have been meaning to do a post on all our social media but haven’t had a chance to but for now, definitely check us out on Pinterest – just search for Gretchen Bee Ranch and there we are. I am somewhat in extreme love with Pinterest. I’d use some exclamation points there but I’d probably get carried away and scare you. That’s how much I love it. I describe Pinterest as a visual bookmarking site and I fell in love with it the first time I tried it last year since I’m very visual, as you likely guessed from all my pictures. I do best when I can see things or can at least visualize things. (If you tell me about someone, I usually ask their name at least so I can create an image in my mind.) I resisted getting GBR on Pinterest for the longest time simply because I wasn’t sure I could handle adding yet another social media “thing” to keep up with but finally realized I needed to do it. Plus the app for the phone is a huge help and it’s yet another way to connect with others and share ideas, which I do enjoy a lot. So, go check GBR out on Pinterest – it’s pretty cool. And don’t worry, the initial obsession phase eases after the first week and then you either find value in it and start your own boards (think clipboards), or you realize you will lose too many hours just looking at all the prettiness and shut down your account. That’s okay. Just come back to us on the blog or one of the other accounts! lol Have fun! And I DO try the many of the things I pin, just in case people tell you Pinterest lovers simply pin things they’ll never own, do, or try to cook. I try.

GBR Pinterest Screen

[Side note: I really wish someone would pay me to just find and teach people about social media. :)]

Maeve's visit

Yesterday we had a lovely visit and consultation with Maeve of Design Maeven out of Austin. Totally great times! We had a wonderful discussion about where we want to see our product lines and image evolve towards and how she might help us get there. Exciting!! We found Maeve online after we looked at the Sweet Cream Suds Company, which is own by a customer who bought a variety of our products. We loved the look of her shop and products and when we Googled more about things, we eventually found Maeve’s name and a few emails later, here she is.

Of course we took her to see the bees and she did great with them and vice versa. They were calm and Maeve handled them calmly and no one got stung. Good all around. We like it when the people we work with want to really know what we are about so one great way for us to see what they are like and about is to invite them to the Bee Ranch. Here they get to see us in our element and we have a chance to see how they feel about what we do. We are thrilled to have found Maeve – not sure our paths would ever have crossed with Maeve’s had it not been for all this social media connectivity. 🙂 See? I brought it all around from beginning to end. lol

Maeve's visit - she did great in the hive and so did the girls

Personal note: I love crafting and paper arts and paper in general. I appreciate quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. We are so glad to have a chance to meet someone who recognizes that presentation of yourself, your product and your image is all tied together and is very important. It’s important to us. So here’s to a partnership that will hopefully help us move our company on to the next level. We want to show people our uniqueness and we look forward to Maeve helping us do that. Stay tuned!

Check it out – books with samples of some lovely, lovely papers, packaging and design ideas. I really enjoyed thumbing through them. Nothing like great stock to make you want to create something beautiful and fun.

Maeve's visit - reviewing paper samples FUN!

Now…off to wrap up candles for market and fold table covers. See y’all tomorrow at the Pearl and Sunday at the Quarry!

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